Saturday, July 26, 2014

30 Days of Fatale: The Race and the Rival.

Fatale #22
released May 7, 2014
following a six-page preview

Readers finally take a closer look at the monster in Fatale with issue #22, advertised as "the life story of the man-monster called The Bishop."

In 1906, the man named Sommerset emerged into the burning streets of San Francisco, climbing from the tunnels we would see again in 1956, in the last chapter of "Death Chases Me."  He first entered those tunnels as a mere human -- "just a boy" -- and he emerged "reborn" into a monster that merely appeared human.  The ritual that transformed him evidently caused the Great San Francisco Earthquake of May 18th, 1906, and it involved the "devouring" of the "Consort" Bonnie; he would spend much of the next century hunting her successor Josephine.

In the meantime, the Bishop Sommerset engaged in a series of bizarre, evil rituals, the most appalling involving a number of infant sacrifices, the victims left hanging upside-down from a tree, where their bodies mummified.  We catch up with him in the present, four days after Josephine's actions at the beginning of issue #20 and therefore a few weeks before she and Nicolas retrieved the Bishop's eyes at the end of issue #21.  He finds Lance, who had been institutionalized after Jo drove him to madness:  Jo always leaves debris in her wake, and he intends somehow to use this "dead man" against Jo.  We'll presumably see how in the final issue.

In all his cult's histories, he has never read of a hunted and cursed woman like Josephine fighting back in a manner far more systematic than the Professor and Bonnie's single assault on the cult's lighthouse. He nevertheless remains confident that "her fate had been sealed ever since her first death" -- and his confidence isn't diminished by either his failure in Romania in 1943 or his subsequent injuries, being blinded in 1956 or burned in 1978.

What I find most interesting is his reminiscences on the events in Romania, last seen in detail in "Just a Glance Away" in issue #14.  Despite the supposed inevitability of Jo's fate, things had gone wrong for the Bishop as she escaped with Walt Booker.
"His black heart had shattered then...and been ground to dust when his rival in Japan had taken the victory that should have been his."
His rival?

I believe this is the one and only time that this "rival" is mentioned:  evidently the Bishop and this rival are in a kind of race, and the rival won that race with a victory that may have corresponded to the atomic bombings in August, 1945.

Josephine obviously wasn't sacrificed, so was this rival chasing his own "consort"?

Comparing issue #11 and the roughly contemporaneous flashbacks in issue #23, it doesn't appear that the Bishop -- then bald, mustachioed and slightly heavy -- was present at the ritual that resulted in Josephine's first death and curse of immortality.  It furthermore stands to reason that the Bishop wouldn't have released the confused and weakened Josephine only to hunt her down immediately, but was this rival present at that house in Fresno where Josephine first died?  Did the rival and the Bishop create each other's quarry?

Will we learn more about this rival in the final issue, and does the rival have a role to play in Josephine and Sommerset's ultimate confrontation?

I can't wait to find out.

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